How to Fix EA Origin Games Not Launching on Steam for Windows

You bought a game made by Electronic Arts on Steam, tried to launch it, and no go: despite legally purchasing it, it’s still asking you “to activate the product” or something along those lines.

Now you’re stuck: you can’t launch the game from Steam, nor have a product key “to activate it” on Electronic Arts’ software. Does that mean you must purchase it again, this time directly from Electronic Arts’ store?

Thankfully, the answer’s negative. The cause of the problem is a strange conflict that you can solve with some software juggling. Let’s see how.

Why Might an EA/Origin Client Game Fail to Launch on Steam?

When you try to launch an EA/Origin game from Steam, it might also need and launch that client separately, either for user authentication or as a means of protection (AKA: Digital Rights Management, or DRM for short).

Sometimes, though, what should be an automatic and straightforward process fails. We can’t tell for sure what’s the reason for such issues, but purely by guessing while troubleshooting the problem, it seems to happen when there’s a version conflict between the client’s version an older game expected to find and the newer that’s installed, or some local data corruption.

To clarify, we’re not talking about being unable to sign in to Steam – for that, check our article on various ways to solve the issue. Instead, in this scenario, there’s a “chain” leading to the game’s launch: Steam should launch the EA app or Origin, and then that, in turn, should launch the game. The problem we’re dealing with is that the middle link of that chain, the EA app or Origin client, seems to fail to establish/authenticate your ownership of a game.

Thankfully, you don’t have to wave bye-bye to your legally purchased EA/Origin titles, nor only use EA/Origin’s launcher. The following steps will probably solve your problem as they did for us.

Writer’s Note: In my case, the problem happened with the title Unravel, and the last versions of the Origin client, before it was replaced with the newer EA client. The article refers to both because older titles built before the EA client might still try to install Origin.

How to Uninstall the Origin/EA Client

The solution we will see requires the complete uninstallation of both the EA app/Origin client from Windows and the offending game from Steam.

  1. To uninstall the EA app/Origin client, like with any other software on Windows, use the Start menu or Search to seek Add or remove programs, and when found, “open” it.
    Start Add Remove Programs Entry

  2. Find the Origin client or EA app on the installed apps list, and click on the button with the three dots on its right. Choose to uninstall it. Typically you should have only one of them installed on your PC since the newer EA app should have replaced the older Origin client. If, for some reason, you still have both, make sure to uninstall each.
    Apps Installed Apps EA App Entry Uninstall

Auto-Installing the Correct Origin/EA Client & Credentials

Although on the surface, the problem we’re dealing with seems to be “I’m launching a game through Steam, nothing shows up on the screen”, as we’ve explained, it’s not actually “a Steam-related issue”.

By using two separate clients, Steam and Origin/EA app, the game needs them both to “collaborate” to work correctly. And that means that even if Steam is working OK, you must ensure the same applies to the Origin/EA app, and you’re logging in with the correct credentials.

However, instead of a long and convoluted process for ensuring that, it’s easier to uninstall and reinstall the game you’re trying to launch. How come?

One of Steam’s features we take for granted is how it “streamlines” game installations. In the past, before Steam and similar clients, if a game relied on other technologies to work correctly, like DirectX, in most cases, you had to install them manually. Steam automates this process and ensures everything a game needs is installed together with the game. And that includes the Origin/EA app.

So, since we’ve uninstalled the Origin client/EA app, by removing and reinstalling the game, Steam will “pull in” the correct version of the extra software the game needs, configured the way it expects.

  1. Launch the Steam client, right-click on the game’s entry, and choose Manage > Uninstall from the menu that shows up. When done, do the opposite, right-click on the game and select Install, or visit its page in your Library and click the Install button on the bottom left of its top banner.
    Steam Reinstall Unravel From Scratch

  2. Allow Steam to download and install the game and any needed extras. We can’t offer specific instructions for that since each title is different; follow the steps on your screen until the game and any extras are fully installed. If your download speeds are slow, check our guide on how to optimize Steam’s download speeds.
    Steam Downloading Unravel Files

  3. We’re almost there: click the Play button, or launch the game any way you wish. However, as we’ll see in the next section, you probably won’t be able to play right away.
    Steam Unravel Reinstalled And Ready To Play

Note that if you have more than one games you’d like to remove, you ought to check our article on the quicker way to manage your games using Steam’s storage manager.

Getting Origin Through the Firewall

Check your firewall client if you have not seen a hint of the Origin/EA client. Your firewall probably detected the newly installed version of the app as an “unknown” piece of software, blocking its access.

  1. Each firewall has a different interface, so we can’t offer specific instructions for all available. This writer’s using the Windows Firewall Control front-end by Malwarebytes for Windows’ built-in firewall, which we saw in the past how you can use to customize the built-in Windows firewall. For that particular app, the process was as simple as visiting its connections log, right-clicking on the newly appeared EA app, and selecting Allow this program.
    Firewall Allow New EA Process Access

  2. If the Origin client/EA app doesn’t show up on your screen, wait for the game to return to an “idle” state in the Steam client. If it doesn’t, manually exit Steam and re-run it. Then, try relaunching the game. However, even if the Origin client/EA app is running and can connect to Electronic Arts’ servers, there’s one more thing to do to use it: to sign in again. We also suggest enabling Keep me signed in for convenience’s sake.
    EA Sign In With Account

  3. Even signing in can get complicated nowadays since that process, too, might fail – but this time, we already know the culprit and the necessary fix. So, if that happens, return to your firewall and, as before, grant access to the newly-spawned EA-related app you’ll find there.
    Firewall Allow Another New EA Process Access

  4. After that last step, you should finally see the Origin client or EA app on your screen, be correctly signed in, and have access to your library of all your Electronic Arts titles, including the troublesome game we’re trying to run.
    EA App Interface After Signing In

  5. You should now be able to launch the game from your collection in Origin/EA app or, as initially intended, directly from Steam. Try it out to ensure it works: first, completely exit the Origin/EA app, and check it’s not idling in the tray. Then, try launching the game from Steam. Steam should run the Origin/EA app and also “feed it” the necessary arguments to have your game launch automatically without you having to perform any extra actions separately.
    Unravel Launched From Steam

Up and Running Again With Origin Games on Steam

The process we saw was more complicated than clicking on Install on Steam and clicking on Play when that part completes. However, it’s worth noting it down, for you might have to repeat the process in the future.

Steam tends to “compartmentalize” the titles in your library to ensure one game’s files don’t step on another’s. So, “fixing the problem” for one game might not be a “global” solution for all other titles that rely on the same non-Steam client.

Thus, although it should be rare, don’t be surprised if you must go through the same steps to run another old, quirky title that relies on a third-party client through Steam.

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